As MLB’s offseason kicks into gear, here are three things we’ll be keeping an eye on today:
1. Angels Won’t Trade Ohtani, But What Will They Do?
Few teams around baseball face as much uncertainty this offseason as the Angels do. Owner Arte Moreno is exploring a sale of the team, and rumors of Shohei Ohtani being traded this offseason have swirled practically since the moment the trade deadline passed. Yesterday GM Perry Minasian announced that the team would not be fielding offers on Ohtani and he would remain with the team through Opening Day. With Ohtani set to test the free agent market after the 2023 season, the Angels will no doubt try to remain competitive, but a 73-89 showing in 2022 leaves Anaheim with a lot of work to do this offseason. Minasian notes that multi-year deals are on the table in spite of the club’s recent tendency toward one year agreements in previous offseasons, though it’s fair to wonder if Moreno would make major, long-term additions to a club’s payroll in the months running up to a sale. Starting pitching isn’t quite as big of a need as it has been in previous years due to the emergence of youngsters like Patrick Sandoval and Reid Detmers, but another arm for the middle of the rotation likely ought to still be a priority. Perhaps the biggest need the Angels will have to address this offseason if they want to compete in 2023 is the bullpen, where Ryan Tepera and Aaron Loup disappointed last year, and closer Raisel Iglesias was moved to the Braves at the trade deadline. Almost as important is addressing the infield; Luis Rengifo looked like a serviceable regular in 2022, but both David Fletcher and Jared Walsh struggled in 2023, and Anthony Rendon’s injury woes in recent seasons leave third base up in the air as well. A righty-hitting complement to Walsh and a shortstop-capable bat could be other sensible additions to the Angels offseason shopping list.
2. Senga’s Market Begins To Develop
While the vast majority of free agency is still tied up in their club’s exclusive negotiating window, international free agent Koudai Senga faces no such restrictions, and a potential suitor has already emerged: the Chicago Cubs. NBC Sports Chicago’s Gordon Wittenmeyer talked with Senga’s agent, Joel Wolfe of Wasserman, who noted the Cubs had been in contact with him about Senga and that Cubs right fielder Seiya Suzuki, another Wolfe client, has “loved” his experience in Chicago thus far. Rumors about the Cubs having interest in Senga have percolated for months, and with plenty of space available in the rotation alongside Marcus Stroman, Justin Steele, and Kyle Hendricks, they may be an attractive destination for Senga.
3. Options, Qualifying Offer Deadline Looms
As Mark Polishuk noted in his offseason preview earlier this week, the deadline for option decisions, as well as for teams to extend the Qualifying Offer to their pending free agents, is this Thursday, November 10th. Many option decisions have already been made, with Anthony Rizzo and Jean Segura among those who have most recently hit the free agent market officially. More option decisions remain, however. One particularly interesting example is James Paxton, whose dilemma Anthony Franco discussed yesterday. Anthony also previewed the upcoming QO decisions last week, with the likes of Nathan Eovaldi and Mitch Haniger among the most interesting borderline cases. For a refresher on what draft picks are at stake with regards to the QO, you can check out Tim Dierkes’s post on the matter.